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Chakra

The Ghost, the Stripes and Chariots of the Last Empire: Karnataka - One State, Many Worlds

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Zubbie15
20 hours ago, Chakra said:

But I really thanked her in the middle of the day... 

Not sure why, but when I read this my mind went to a naughty place. :blink:

 

Really enjoying this, love the light on the recent photos they really bring things out. The dust bathing elephant in particular is nicely captured. 

 

We looked for a Blackie in Tadoba this past March but didn't have any luck, so nice to see your photos. 

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Chakra
1 hour ago, Zubbie15 said:

Not sure why, but when I read this my mind went to a naughty place. :blink:

 

:P:P Let's not wonder too much about that. I don't want to get told off by the mods for being naughty :(

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Galago

Lovely photos! And what a way to finish the day. I think the woodpecker is probably female White-bellied. 

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JayRon

I like the tiger, but I am really impressed with you seeing dholes...You are very  lucky :) And of course, lots of beautiful pictures :) 

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Chakra
21 hours ago, Galago said:

Lovely photos! And what a way to finish the day. I think the woodpecker is probably female White-bellied. 

Thanks. I'm glad that I got the woodpecker bit right:rolleyes:. Many friends have been trying to convert me into a birder for a while without much success ! 

11 hours ago, JayRon said:

I like the tiger, but I am really impressed with you seeing dholes...You are very  lucky :) And of course, lots of beautiful pictures :) 

Thanks. That was actually my first sighting of dholes. Yes very lucky and happy indeed. 

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Chakra

This tigress is the undisputed queen of Kabini. Against all odds she has managed to successfully rear three cubs from her last litter. Normally just one or maximum two cubs survive. These cubs are now two years old and soon they will be kicked out by her in the next mating season. She has been a star and it was a privilege to watch her. 
I like Big Cats: they have something called SWAG! Mere mortals do not exist for them. 
Backwater Momma sat nicely for several minutes, then yawned and went for a stroll. If Momma is near then can the cubs be far behind?

The size of her cubs took me by surprise.  I had seen some videos in youtube of these cubs last year and looked very cuddly. They were almost full grown and had the aura of danger around them. 
They did not stray too far from Momma still. It was wonderful watching them playing just like kittens, rubbing noses, mock fighting, spraying scent markings on trees, rolling and growling softly. 
I really wanted to run towards them, hold them tightly and tickle their bellies. 
They were clearly curious about us and made eye contacts several times, while momma just relaxed. 
Light faded away quickly, it was time to leave and after half an hour of sheer delight I had to say goodbye. I could have stayed there the whole night. A big box ticked. Not one but four tigers!! 
The photos are not that great as light was really low with ISO jacked up but the memories are still bright, etched in my mind!! 

The whole experience was quite civilised. The drivers kept the excited crowd under control. One keen photographer was sticking his body out too much and he was severely told off ! 
Backwaters Momma: the living legend. 
Thanks Rajesh my Formula 1 friend.

 

Mama goes on a stroll 

 

 

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Wake up lazy boy : say Hello to our guests 

 

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No mum !! It's still not sunset. I'm not getting up. 

 

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Just a little mock fight 

 

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Blood brothers

 

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A little nose rub goes a long way 

 

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Look at my teeth mum 

 

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Eye of the tiger 

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How many tigers can you spot ?

 

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Hi humans !! 

 

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Marking time 

 

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Chakra

Tiger ~: Ticked

Black panther ~ : Ticked 

And still one more safari left !

I requested zone B which was met with some surprise as  most tourists request to go to Zone A which has higher chances of predator sightings.  The driver Amzad was a top notch guy and brilliant birder. The fellow travelers also seemed to be keen to learn more about the jungle in depth. I strongly believe one's fellow travellers have a huge role to play their experiences in the jungle. I met a nice Indian gentleman and his teenage son and I immediately liked the dad's approach to his son trying him to teach more about jungle. He himself seemed to know a lot about the jungle. Little did I know that he'd play an important role in my travel later unknowingly. 

I watched with great delight how a Malabar giant squirrel jumped from one tree to another looking for his breakfast, how a langur family relaxed by the water but still keeping an eye on the crocs, how racquet tailed drongos and Brahminy starlings flew around us, storks landed on water, a very angry looking Indian roller took off displaying its bright colours and just enjoyed the vast backwater with the stumps of the  trees which were lost when this area was flooded.

A very nice morning and light was just perfect.

Then Amjad had a call to say that a tiger was sighted and he drove off. Unfortunately we missed the tiger by just a few minutes. The jeep which was there first had good sightings of an adult male. So it clearly shows it is possible to see the tigers in zone B as well. 

Some pics from my last safari in Zone B. A very rewarding morning. 

 

Flying squirrel !  Am I in Borneo ? 

No an airborne Malabar giant squirrel 

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An angry Indian Roller 

 

 

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Ba ba black stork have you any wool ?

 

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Three musketeers

 

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Croc alert 

 

 

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Hill Mynahs

 

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KFC stakeholder ! 

 

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My brother from my other Mother :wub::wub:

 

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Next time someone comes to talk to me denying evolution  I'll show them this picture : just look a the emotion 

 

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  This elephant had a weeping ulcer on its side. Hope it's nothing serious. Just had its bath. 

 

 

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 A Dog-eared Elephant

 

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I'm always promoting breastfeeding in my daily work, so nice to see Nestle hasn't reached this mum yet 

 

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   Twisted mind ! 

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I believe this is a rare sight : an Albino Chital. It was much whiter to start with but gradually getting pigmented. Black leopard and albino deer !! 

 

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Brahminy starlings 

 

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Breakfast time. Irresistibly cuddly, although technically a Big Rat !! 

 

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You idiot, just ask your mate to eat it ! Isn't it obstructing your field of vision ? 

 

 

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Magpie robin

 

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Roger Federer about to send one of his laser guided  unplayable cross court return 

 

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Brain fever 

 

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Firm parenting is something which is lacking from today's society ;)

 

"You need a tight smack for moving too close to the water. Do you want to be the crock's breakfast ? Naughty boy ! " 

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"Sorry mum. I'll never do that again." 

"That's better. I still love you very much. "

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This is a clear case of pain in the bum ! 

 

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Black headed ibis : superb hunter 

 

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Kabini backwaters 

 

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Wagtail 

 

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Mock fighting !! In your face !! 

 

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Edited by Chakra

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TonyQ

What a wonderful selection of wildlife you saw on this drive in the “unpopular” section. Beautiful photos.

It is a shame that for some people the only things that count are tigers.

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Chakra
1 minute ago, TonyQ said:

What a wonderful selection of wildlife you saw on this drive in the “unpopular” section. Beautiful photos.

It is a shame that for some people the only things that count are tigers.

I couldn't agree more @TonyQ.  I'm the first one to say that tigers are majestic animals and I'd love to see more of them but at the same time  I find the little creatures very very interesting and they sometimes make superb subjects for photography as well. 

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Galago

Excellent set of photos and, for someone who claims not to be a birder, I'd say you're well on the way! 😉

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Chakra
12 minutes ago, Galago said:

Excellent set of photos and, for someone who claims not to be a birder, I'd say you're well on the way! 😉

Yes ! Slowly slowly getting there,😢

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xelas

So many stories that the nature is telling us, and @Chakra has a keen eye to see them and a skill to tel them!

As for the photography, to take a photo of a big cat is quite easy, after one is spotted. But to take the photo of an angry roller in flight is a different ball game! Extremely well done, Chak.

Edited by xelas

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Chakra
7 hours ago, xelas said:

So many stories that the nature is telling us, and @Chakra has a keen eye to see them and a skill to tel them!

As for the photography, to take a photo of a big cat is quite easy, after one is spotted. But to take the photo of an angry roller in flight is a different ball game! Extremely well done, Chak.

 

Thanks @xelas yes I have greatest respect for those photographers who freeze birds in flight. 

 

So now it's time to leave Kabini river lodge sadly. I really really enjoyed my stay there. Money well spent and many memories.  I didn't have too much time to do birding within the lodge grounds but there was one fearless fantail who practically came and perched on my lens.

 

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Butterflies are even more difficult to capture than birds so I was pleased with my efforts after chasing this beauty for a while

 

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Not really the flowering season but some stunners are always there

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Time to move towards Bandipur now. 

Edited by Chakra

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Chakra

Bandipur : a few  observations to start with.

I have been following their Facebook page for a while and was astounded with the reported almost daily big cat sightings.  One of my friends  from Chennai went to Bandipur and was really pleased with his experience. 

Then came the fire ! Unfortunately it is becoming almost an annual event for Bandipur just like Australian outbacks.  There are lots of speculations behind the cause of the fire. Some even mentioned to me that this was deliberately caused by promoters trying to reduce the area of the national park to grab lands and build houses. 

Bu IMHO the reason behind is the curse of the Bandipur forest : Lantana weed.  Lantana is taking over the forests of southern India at an alarming rate.  This is an indestructible weed which kills local plants by suffocating their growth and spreads like wildfire. In places it is so dense that animals struggle to find their ways. It makes rangers' lives very difficult as it reduces visibility significantly.  Sadly the chief forest officer of this division dired last year after being charged by an elephant and lots of people mentioned that the dense Lantana made it very difficult for the guards to detect the presence of lone elephants. 

Government seems to be busier with other things while this curse spreads. Unless something drastic is done within next ten years Bandipur range will have very few surviving animals. 

But the forest is still very rich and diverse and mostly deciduous so visibility is good in winter months.

If you are planning to travel to Bandipur in February onward then be prepared for bushfire. The whole park and all the safaris were closed for couple of weeks this year. 

 

Accommodation : once  again JLR rules the roost with their lodge Bandipur safari lodge and monopoly over safari. It is nowhere as grand as Kabini river lodge. No air con but they do provide a ceiling fan and a large air cooler which kept the room cool for us.  There is no need to spend extra to go for more expensive rooms. Apart from  being slightly bigger in size they are same as the budget rooms.  No pool or spa. 

The resort is much smaller so has a personal feeling. Staff, especially kitchen staff, are absolute fantastic.  The resort is just off the main road but is surprisingly quiet. You board the jeep from the resort and it is about 10 minutes drive to the gate where you wait for five to ten  minutes.  They also arrange an excursion to a nearby hilltop temple Gopalaswamy Betta. It was a nice short trip with good views on the way up. 

I was most disapponted with the naturalists and quality of guiding. I had someone called Nataraj with me for three of the safaris and honestly I think I know more about the forests in India than him.  I spotted tracks with pug marks which were deep suggesting wind has not had time to blow over them.  I even heard some alarm calls but he seemed to be very indecisive. He was least interested in showing us the local flora or birds. 

For two safaris we were tied with two guys from Bangalore who were regular visitors and I could feel that Natraj was getting dictated by them.  The middle row of the jeep was always reserved for them.  On one safari we were unfortunate enough to go with a group of ladies who  wanted to photograph each and every peacock and deer with their I-phones, while I sat in the back row wringing my hands in frustration. 

One jeep told us that they had seen a jungle cat in area  just before us and even told us which way the cat went.  I'm absolutely sure a better tracker would have managed to spot that as I was  tracking a group of pea-hens and I saw they took off suddenly. Natraj miseed that and then realised the cat had walked in that stretch spooking the fowls. 

A leopard was actually spotted by some local villagers who guided us to its resting place. 

On the last Safari I once again met that dad and son duo. The gentleman seemed to have a lot of clout and looked like he had his own personal naturalist valled Mr Kuttappan, who was also in the jeep with us and he completely took over the guiding and basically shut Natraj up.  I came to know that gentleman was the director of operations for all the Serai lodges in karnataka and he had come on inspection along with his son to inspect the Serai lodges in Kabini and bandipur. Serai is a very well respected high-end chain in India and I had seriously considered staying at Serai Bandipur but the fact that JLR had monopoly over safari swayed me towards Bandipur safari lodge.  His son  Jignesh was a nice fellow and we soon started discussing football ( he a Chelsea supporter and I am a manchester united fan so there was lot of rivalry and banter ). Mr Kuttappan is the chief naturalist of Serai  Bandipur and he had come with his boss and his son to help them in the safari.  Now he was a naturalist that I could relate to. He showed me a wild mango tree, told me the story of very old Arjun tree and many other stories while still keeping an eye on everything, showed his love for nature by protecting a cluster of lapwing eggs, spotted a Sikkir Malkoha and a crested hawk eagle with eyes closed and he decided which way to go when we heard alarm calls. Like a general he divided the area into grids based on peacock calls and langur calls and decided on two roads going up and down.  He explained his reasoning to mre hoping that when the tiger comes out of the bush we'll spot it on these open roads. It all depended whether the tiger wanted to come out or not. After about ten minutes of going up and down on these roads we met Sundari (the beautiful lady) going on her morning stroll. I'm dead sure Natraj would have missed Sundari even if she was walking in front of her.  

Thank you Mr Kuttappan and boss of Serai resorts : you made my day ! 

 

Here comes Sundari 

 

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marcox

Thanks a lot for your tripreport. Seems you had a great time there. I will be visitting Karnataka in around 2 weeks and was also thinking about staying at the jlr lodges. But I found an interesting alternative staying at a homestay close to the kutta side of nagarhole and doing jlr jeep safari from there. The seat in the jeep can also be prebooked so you can be sure, you will get a jeep safari. The price is also quiet economical with 1400rps.

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madaboutcheetah

@Chakra - at Bandipur, you can hire a private gypsy at the park office every drive .... WOW - how lucky with the Tiger sighting there ........ 

 

That Backwater female in Kabini is best ever!!!

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Chakra
16 hours ago, marcox said:

Thanks a lot for your tripreport. Seems you had a great time there. I will be visitting Karnataka in around 2 weeks and was also thinking about staying at the jlr lodges. But I found an interesting alternative staying at a homestay close to the kutta side of nagarhole and doing jlr jeep safari from there. The seat in the jeep can also be prebooked so you can be sure, you will get a jeep safari. The price is also quiet economical with 1400rps.

@marcox I'm intrigued about this homestay near Kutta.  I assume it is not jungle retreat Waynaad as they are proper resort and not homestay.   I was in touch with Jungle retreat wayanad prior to my trip and probably would have stayed but the itinerary was becoming too tight. they told me that their safaris were on a vehicle called Bolero. I was really keen on a open top jeep and so decided to go out with JLR. I'd really love to know more about this place you have mentioned. 

9 hours ago, madaboutcheetah said:

@Chakra - at Bandipur, you can hire a private gypsy at the park office every drive .... WOW - how lucky with the Tiger sighting there ........ 

 

That Backwater female in Kabini is best ever!!!

Thanks @madaboutcheetah Yes I do remember you mentioning about private gypsy safari from Bandipur. I even tried to book it online  but for some reason it did not work and I decided to bite the bullet and go with JLR. I sent several e-mails to them asking to clarify my query about private gypsy but no one bothered to reply. 

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Chakra

Let's start with non-stripey less glamorous subjects 

 

Starting with national Bird again. Light is everything

 

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A few more birds

 

Crested eagle : juvenile but still majestic 

 

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Concentration personified

 

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Riki tiki tavi 

 

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This is the group I was tracking which got spooked by the jungle cat and our naturalist seemed to be unaware of that

 

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Wait at sunrise. My favourite bird whose future is hanging by a thread, all thanks to us and Diclofenac 

 

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Hoopoe

 

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A sleepy owlet 

 

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Flameback greater ? 

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A little action. Shikra went for the plum headed parakeet but could not make a clean kill. Parakeet escaped but could not fly too far as clearly one wing was damaged. Shikra came back and finished the job

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Sambars and large Chital 

 

 

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The leopard which was spotted by villagers 

 

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a large group of ellies 

 

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Mock charged by a mama 

 

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Sunset time 

 

 

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I liked the way Mr Kuttapan made a small marking with twigs and other objects to earn the drivers not to trample over th lapwing eggs. 

 

 

DSC_4067.jpg

 

 

Edited by Chakra

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xelas

Lovely sleepy owlet, earned to be showed twice.

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Chakra
2 minutes ago, xelas said:

Lovely sleepy owlet, earned to be showed twice.

sorry !! edited. Trying to finish off quickly before leaving for  Christmas party !! 

 

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Galago

Lovely photos! If I get half as good when I go I will be a very happy camper!  I think the Flameback could be Black-rumped. Personally I find the Flamebacks really tricky. What do you think @xelas?

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marcox

@Chakra: No its not jungle retreat but they can book the same jlr vehicle for you. But its a 45min ride from jrw to the safari starting point. I found to homestays near the starting point. You can stay at spicegarden which is 5min from there and the jlr vehicle will pick you up from there ot the gateaway stay, which is even behind the forest gate and you can walk like 5 min to the safari starting point. I will write a TR, when I‘m back home.

 

The JLR Bolero can open the top as far as I remember. Can add a pic, when im at home. Since I spend christmas in thailand. Its like a comfortable 9 seater.

Edited by marcox
Addition

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madaboutcheetah
11 hours ago, Chakra said:

@marcox I'm intrigued about this homestay near Kutta.  I assume it is not jungle retreat Waynaad as they are proper resort and not homestay.   I was in touch with Jungle retreat wayanad prior to my trip and probably would have stayed but the itinerary was becoming too tight. they told me that their safaris were on a vehicle called Bolero. I was really keen on a open top jeep and so decided to go out with JLR. I'd really love to know more about this place you have mentioned. 

Thanks @madaboutcheetah Yes I do remember you mentioning about private gypsy safari from Bandipur. I even tried to book it online  but for some reason it did not work and I decided to bite the bullet and go with JLR. I sent several e-mails to them asking to clarify my query about private gypsy but no one bothered to reply. 

 

JLR isn't going to reply to the question - that's going to take bookings away from the monopoly they've become.  All you need to do is get to the park office in Bandipur and book on the spot. You can't do this in advance, but, can do on the spot and it's usually always available. FYI for next time ;)

 

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Chakra
12 hours ago, Galago said:

Lovely photos! If I get half as good when I go I will be a very happy camper!  I think the Flameback could be Black-rumped. Personally I find the Flamebacks really tricky. What do you think @xelas?

@Galago I'm sure as a birder you'll have a fabulous time. I missed a paradise flycatcher !! 

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Chakra
5 hours ago, marcox said:

@Chakra: No its not jungle retreat but they can book the same jlr vehicle for you. But its a 45min ride from jrw to the safari starting point. I found to homestays near the starting point. You can stay at spicegarden which is 5min from there and the jlr vehicle will pick you up from there ot the gateaway stay, which is even behind the forest gate and you can walk like 5 min to the safari starting point. I will write a TR, when I‘m back home.

 

The JLR Bolero can open the top as far as I remember. Can add a pic, when im at home. Since I spend christmas in thailand. Its like a comfortable 9 seater.

That's really interesting. I look forward to reading your report. 

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